Complexes made from antigen and specific antibodies have been used to suppress specific antibody production. This property is of potential therapeutic interest in immediate hypersensitivily states which are characterized by hyperproduction of IgE antibodies. We report here on the use of antigen-antibody complexes in patients with hypersensitivity to grass pollen. Specific anti-allergen antibodies were prepared by immunoadsorption from the serum of hypersensitive individuals and mixed with grass pollen allergens to form complexes in antibody excess. These complexes were used in a strictly autologous manner for inoculating patients prior to and during a pollen season. The study comprised two randomly defined groups of 15 patients who were inoculated intradermally either with a preparation of allergen-antibody complexes or with the carrier buffer, according to a double-blind protocol. Diary cards were used to follow nasal and ocular symptoms, bronchial asthma and medication intake. Specific IgE antibodies were assayed during the trial and 1 year afterwards.
Inoculation of allergen-autologous antibody complexes was well tolerated. It significantly reduced ocular symptoms (Mann-Whitney U-test, P < 0·05), bronchial asthma during the first part of the season (Mann-Whitney U-test, P < 0·001) and drug intake (Mann-Whitney U-test, P < 0·001). This treatment prevented the seasonal increase in specific IgE antibodies, whose production continued to decrease after the pollen season. These effects were obtained within a few weeks of treatment, using a cumulative amount of allergen 100-fold lower than the amount which would have been used for a conventional hyposensitization.
Inoculation of allergen-antibody complexes might prove to be a valuable alternative for the treatment of immediate hypersensitivity.